Take Five: Green Bay

Posted Dec 17, 2011

Five things to watch when the Chiefs kickoff against the Packers

The Kyle Orton era begins Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium with a rare second chance for a non-division quarterback to take down the undefeated Green Bay Packers.

Orton previously started against the defending Super Bowl Champions in early October, throwing for three touchdowns and three interceptions in Denver’s 49-23 loss at Lambeau Field. Denver made an in-game switch to Tim Tebow the following week and Orton was claimed off waivers by Kansas City some six weeks later.

Is the second time a charm?

Minnesota rookie Christian Ponder is the only opposing quarterback to get multiple starts against Green Bay this season and lost his second attempt 45-7. But Orton is also trying to make a positive first impression on the Chiefs fan base. So is new head coach Romeo Crennel.

“Team-wide effort” has been the catchphrase at Arrowhead this week and there’s no doubt that’s what it will take to derail Green Bay’s march towards history.

Let’s Take Five…

1) Jennings-less Attack

Green Bay will be without leading wide receiver Greg Jennings on Sunday due to a knee injury suffered last week against Oakland. Jennings leads the Packers with 67 receptions and owns 949 receiving yards with nine TD catches. His absence is significant, but the Packers have plenty of other receiving threats.

Former Kansas State star Jordy Nelson becomes Green Bay’s top target. He leads the team with 957 receiving yards and 10 TDs on 51 receptions. Donald Driver and James Jones are likely to see increased looks with Jennings out as well.

Missing Jennings won’t deflate Green Bay’s league-leading scoring offense, but it certainly aids a Chiefs secondary with two strong cornerbacks and allows more options for safety help in covering TE Jermichael Finley.

Kansas City’s secondary will likely be operating without veteran S Jon McGraw.

2) Continued Pass Rush

Kansas City’s revived pass rush was one of the only positive aspects that continued in last week’s loss at New York.

The Chiefs sacked Jets QB Mark Sanchez three times last week to give the defense 14 sacks over its past four games. Rookie Justin Houston has become a reliable threat opposite Tamba Hali, which has opened rush lanes for the interior of Kansas City’s front seven.

Rodgers was sacked 31 times in 15 starts last season and has already been taken down 32 times this year. Constant pressure is key. Rogers is just 1-6 as a starter when being sacked five or more times in a single game.

Gaining five-plus sacks is a tall task, but it’s one of the few trends that have hampered Rodgers throughout his career.

3) Speed-Up The Game

How do you slow down a team that’s scored more points in the first half than you’ve scored all season? You keep the clock running when the football is in your possession.

Green Bay has put up 248 first-half points this year while the Chiefs have scored 173 points overall. The Packers first quarter point total (115 points) accounts for two-thirds of the Chiefs scoring all season.

If there was ever a time for Kansas City’s league-leading rushing attack from last season to re-emerge, it’s this week.

Kansas City ranks 15th in rushing offense at 116.4 yards per game, but the Chiefs run game has been anything but consistent. One of the Chiefs running backs needs to get hot Sunday afternoon and shoulder the team’s rushing load.

Green Bay allows 106 rushing yards per game on average. It likely won’t end well for the Chiefs if the offense can’t control the clock.

4) Nothing To Lose

Mathematically the Chiefs are still the in the AFC West race, so there is technically still something to lose with a loss on Sunday. But in reality, the Chiefs are six days removed from a head coaching change and struggling through an inconsistent season.

With the Packers chasing history, the pressure isn’t on Kansas City this Sunday. It’s on Green Bay.

Green Bay’s last loss came nearly one year ago (12/19/10) when backup QB Matt Flynn filled in for injured starter Aaron Rodgers in a 31-27 loss at New England. Including last year’s playoffs, the Packers have now won 19 straight games.

New England holds the NFL’s current record with a 21-game winning streak from 2003-04 that ended in Super Bowl XLII.

The Packers are the eighth team in NFL history to start a season 13-0 and all but one of those squads went on to play in the league’s title game (several teams pre-date the Super Bowl era). But of those seven previous 13-0 teams, more than half (the 1934 Bears, 1998 Broncos, 2005 Colts and 2009 Saints) lost their 14th game of the season.

Nobody’s perfect. Green Bay will eventually lose. But will it be on December 18, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium to the 5-8 Kansas City Chiefs?

5) Succop’s Streak

Ryan Succop has now connected on 17 consecutive field goal attempts. It’s a streak worth watching as Kansas City rounds out the regular season.

Succop’s 17-straight makes is currently the longest active streak in the NFL and he needs to hit five more kicks to tie Pete Stoyanovich’s team-record 22 straight field goal connections. Last week, Succop connected on a 53-yarder to keep his streak alive.

Succop has now make three field goals of 50 yards this season, tying him for the third-highest single-season mark in team history.

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